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Rescue efforts hit a snag after 5.9-magnitude Afghan earthquake

Rescue efforts hit a snag after 5.9-magnitude Afghan earthquake

Posted June. 24, 2022 07:55,   

Updated June. 24, 2022 07:55


“I lost 22 members of my [extended family] including my sister, and three of my brothers. More than 70 people in the village died.”

A 5.9-magnitude earthquake killed more than 1,000 people in the northeastern part of Afghanistan on Wednesday morning, and Karim Nyazai, who scrambled to visit his hometown affected by this devastating catastrophe, told the British daily Guardian about the pandemonium. “The entire village is buried. Those who could manage to get out before everything fell down were managing to take out the bodies of their loved ones out of the rubble. There were bodies wrapped in blankets everywhere,” Mr. Nyazai added.

“Nearly 2,000 houses were destroyed. Each family has at least seven or eight people, and different families often live in the same house,” said Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, during a briefing on Wednesday, warning that the damage might swell.

The Taliban, the effective rulers of the region, are financially incapable of executing the necessary rescue operations, with their administrative power not reaching far enough to the peripheries. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Taliban sent seven helicopters, 50 ambulances, and medical staff to the affected region, but their rescue operations are being impeded owing to heavy downpour and hail. As the epicenter is an alpine region with lower temperatures, the injured victims might die from hypothermia if rescue operations are not executed swiftly enough.

The Taliban is asking for aid from the international community, vowing to offer 100,000 afghanis (around 1.45 million won) for the dead and 50,000 (around 720,000 won) for the injured. The United Nations have promised to offer food aid along with emergency shelters, with the European Union stepping in.

In March this year, however, the Taliban was slapped with a sanction prohibiting them accessing the World Bank funds for introducing policies persecuting women such as a ban on girls education. Pursuant to the sanction, cash aid is restricted to prevent it being diverted into the Taliban account, so it remains to be seen whether international aid will be delivered smoothly.

Seong-Ho Hwang hsh0330@donga.com